Though children rarely enjoy looking at toys without being able to play with them, the annual holiday exhibit at the Southern Alleghenies Museum of Art at Altoona will teach them differently.
"Antique Dolls: A Holiday Celebration," which will remain on display through Jan. 7, features a collection of 50 European porcelain dolls from the early 1800s and 1900s.
Barbara Hollander, SAMA-Altoona coordinator, said this year's doll display is a really special collection because of their porcelain faces and exquisite features.
Mirror photo by Gary M. Baranec
Izzie Benjamin, 2, of Altoona, looks over a selection of antique dolls — part of this year’s holiday doll collection at the Southern Alleghenies Museum of Art at Altoona.
"I'd say, this year, they're pretty rare," Hollander said. "I just think it's an extraordinary collection."
The "Antique Dolls" exhibit has been a long-standing tradition at the museum. Hollander said a private benefactor donates the dolls each year, and curates the show to cater to a specific theme. And every year, the exhibit is much anticipated.
Hollander said it's already drawn a crowd, though the exhibit just opened on Nov. 18.
If you go
What: SAMA-Altoona's annual "Antique Dolls" exhibit and Pizza and Parade party
When: The party will be held at 6 p.m. Thursday with the Altoona Christmas parade immediately following. The exhibit runs through Jan. 7.
Where: SAMA-Altoona, 1210 11th Avenue, Altoona
Details: Tickets for the pizza party cost $5 for children and $10 for adults. Please call the museum at 946-4464 for reservations. The museum's hours of operation are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and 1 to 5 p.m. Saturday.
"People come out every year," she said. "There are so many doll collectors in this city, it's unbelievable. I know that, because they come in and they always talk about their own collections."
The exhibit features many German porcelain bisque dolls produced by the Kestner Doll Company. Others were made in Switzerland, France and England, including a display of 20th century Sasha Dolls, which were created to reflect children of all races and cultures.
Any child, or those who are simply young at heart, can appreciate the exhibit, Hollander said.
"Even if you've had a doll that you've saved from your youth, you're a collector, and you can appreciate the importance they're had on their owners, no matter who their owners were," she said.
"Antique Dolls," along with other Christmas festivities, will also serve as the backdrop for SAMA's annual Pizza and Parade party at 6 p.m. Thursday. Guests can enjoy pizza, view the collection and, afterwards, watch Altoona's annual Christmas parade.
Hollander said the party is a way to help museum patrons "celebrate the whole season."
"We just coordinate along with the city to make it one big party," she said.
Victoria Ernest of Altoona had the opportunity to do just that for her granddaughter, Gabby, as they will celebrate her third birthday at the museum.
"I heard it was a lovely event," Ernest said.
Ernest has seen the "Antique Dolls" exhibit before, and is excited to show this year's collection to her granddaughter.
"She's very much a girly girl," Ernest said. "She's the perfect age. The magic is all there for her."
Ernest said all of the festivities in Altoona that night will be a wonderful way to kick off the holiday season. Hollander added that locals should consider coming to celebrate at the museum.
"I would come for the camaraderie and the festive feeling of the season," Hollander said. "It's just a great night."
Mirror Staff Writer Beth Ann Downey is at 946-7520.